Everyone has pretty much already posted their Top Ten’s for the year. I like to go list crazy in summing up the year in film and go beyond the standard 10 ‘best’. I go over this again and again, but it’s all about subjectivity for me and what I considered my favorites. And in going through the year in film, there are a lot of different facets I like to recognize. Everyone comes away with a new batch of films to hold near and dear to their hearts, myself certainly included. This particular post will recognize things like types of performances, characters, beginnings, endings, character dynamics and more. For my attempts at judging technical aspects of film, my eventual Dream Oscar Ballot will cover that particular ground. The two films I will be seeing before posting my final Top 30 of the year (yes, I do Top 30, not 10; I am in no way, shape or form a Top Ten purist) are A Separation and Love Exposure. By the time I see Mysteries of Lisbon, Margaret, Into the Abyss, The Interrupters and others, my lists will be posted.

Like last year, the upcoming posts that will get more time dedicated to them (and will be posted within the next week and a half) are:
Top 10 Worst Films of the Year (which will really be Least Favorite, but nobody will search for a ‘Least Favorite’ list, so I will conveniently name it ‘Worst’.
Top 10 Song Usages
Top 20 Scenes in 2011 Film
Top 20 Performances in 2011 Film
Top 30 Films of 2011

This first post is supposed to be pure harmless superficial fun. I have seen 133 films from 2011. I will list them at the bottom so readers will know what was considered. Beware of spoilers in the Top 5 Romances regarding Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for those who have not seen it. These preliminary posts will give some hints as to my favorite films of the year, a group that may not be particularly original, but that I am nonetheless proud of and happy with. The year in film has already been picked apart with collective themes of identity, nostalgia and more running deep. There are many who think this was a weak year for film. From an awards standpoint I would agree. But from an overall standpoint, I wholeheartedly disagree.

On to the 1st Annual Cinema Enthusiast Awards! Being a huge fan of The Film Experience’s Film Bitch Awards, I borrowed a few categories from there.

Top 5 Beginnings:
1. Melancholia
2. Incendies
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. Contagion
5. Drive (The Driver’s opening speech)

Top 5 Use of Title Card/Opening Credits
1. Drive (Title Card/Opening Credits)
2. Hanna (Title Card only)
3. Insidious (Title Card Only)
4. Outrage (Title Card Only)
5. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Title Card/Opening Credits)
Honorable Mention: The Adventures of Tintin (Title Card/Opening Credits)

Top 5 Endings:
1. Hanna
2. Melancholia
3. Warrior
3. The Housemaid
4. Take Shelter
Honorable Mention: The Skin I Live In, Moneyball, The Trip, Of Gods and Men

Top 5 Ensembles:
1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
2. Midnight in Paris
3. Melancholia
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
5. Hugo
Honorable Mention: Margin Call

Top 5 Underrated Films in 2011:
1. The Sleeping Beauty (that other Sleeping Beauty film not directed by Julia Leigh, but by Catherine Breillat)
2. Bobby Fischer Against the World
3. Black Death
4. Terri
5. The Green Hornet
Note: Underrated could mean anything. But seeing what films get attention in the blogosphere, with critics, from a box office standpoint and from a year-end list perspective, these are the films I felt did not get enough attention from at least two of the aforementioned considerations.

Films That Started Strong But….
1. Source Code
2. Insidious
3. The Double Hour
4. Cold Fish
5. Crazy, Stupid, Love (Where the other films are on this for their final thirds, my last choice appears only for that final speech. It did not entirely dampen the experience and is still ranks among the better films I saw this year)

Top 5 Newcomers:

1. Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2. Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Help, The Debt (the ones I’ve seen her in)
3. Elisabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
4. John Boyega – Attack the Block
5. Ezra Miller – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Honorable Mentions: Oscar Issac (Drive, Sucker Punch), Asa Butterfield (Hugo)
Note: I realize this is not the first year some of these actors have been in significant parts. But I’d call all of these actors newcomers this year relatively speaking.

Top 5 Underrated Performances
1. Ludivine Sagnier – Love Crime
2. Eva Green – Cracks
3. Melanie Lynskey – Win Win
4. John C. Reilly – Terri
5. Brie Larson – Rampart

Top 5 Film 2011 Limited Performances (characters with only a few scenes/a limited role)

1. Oscar Issac as Standard – Drive
2. Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway – Midnight in Paris
3. Michael Stuhlbarg as Rene Tabard – Hugo
4. Collette Wolfe as Sandra – Young Adult
5. Kathy Baker as Sarah – Take Shelter

Top 5 Worst Performances:
1. Lauren Petre as Miss Hindle – The Woman
2. Sean Bridgers as Chris Cleek – The Woman
3. January Jones as Emma Frost– X-Men: First Class
4. Mickey Rourke as Nate Poole– Passion Play
5. Vanessa Hudgens as Linda – Beastly

Top 5 2011 Film Scores:
1. Hanna – The Chemical Brothers
2. Senna – Antonio Pinto
3. The Skin I Live In – Alberto Iglesias
3. Jane Eyre – Dario Marianelli
5. Take Shelter – David Wingo
Honorable Mentions – Contagion, Moneyball, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Attack the Block

Top 5 Film 2011 Characters:

1. Charlize Theron – Mavis Gary – Young Adult
2. Kristen Wiig – Annie Walker – Bridesmaids
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman – Paul Zara – The Ides of March
4. Eva Green – Miss G – Cracks
5. Ryan Gosling – The Driver – Drive
Honorable Mention – Michael Shannon in Take Shelter and Jonah Hill in Moneyball

Top 5 Character Dynamics:
(this could be any kind of dynamic between 2 or more characters whether adversarial, based in friendship, etc.)
1. Juliette Binoche and William Shimell – Certified Copy
2. Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender – Shame
3. Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman – Tyrannosaur
4. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon – The Trip
5. Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt – Young Adult
Honorable Mentions: Choi Min-sik and Lee Byung-hun – I Saw the Devil, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph – Bridesmaids, William Jøhnk Juels Nielsen and Markus Rygaard – In a Better World

Top 5 2011 Film Villains:
1. Tom Hollander as Issacs – Hanna
2. Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose – Drive
3. Choi Min-sik as Kyung-chul – I Saw the Devil
4. Gary Oldman as Lord Shen – Kung Fu Panda 2
5. Ezra Miller as Kevin – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Honorable Mention – Ralph Fiennes – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Top 5 Film 2011
1. Kristen Wiig and Chris Dowd – Bridesmaids
2. Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender – Jane Eyre
3. Tom Cullen and Chris New –Weekend
4. Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent – Beginners (less for the material the two are given and more for the chemistry between McGregor and Laurent which, for my money, was the strongest of perhaps the last few years)
5. Mark Strong and Colin Firth – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Honorable Mention: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – Crazy, Stupid, Love

List of 2011 Films Seen: 13 Assassins, 50/50, A Better Life, A Dangerous Method, Albert Nobbs, American Grindhouse, Another Earth, Attack the Block, Beastly, Beginners, Being Elmo, Bellflower, Bill Cunningham, New York, Biutiful, Black Death, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Bridesmaids, Buck, Cameraman: the Life and Work of Jack Cardiff, Captain America: The First Avenger, Carnage, Cars 2, Caterpillar, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Cedar Rapids, Certified Copy, Cold Fish, Cold Weather, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, Contagion,, Cracks, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Dream Home, Drive, Edge of Dreaming, Hanna, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hesher, Hobo with a Shotgun, Horrible Bosses, Hugo, I Saw the Devil, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, In a Better World, In Time, Incendies, Insidious, J. Edgar, Jane Eyre, Kung Fu Panda 2, Last Night, Le Quattro Volte, Love Crime, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Meek’s Cutoff, Melancholia, Midnight in Paris, Mildred Pierce, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Moneyball, My Week with Marilyn, Of Gods and Men, Outrage, Page One: Inside the New York Times, Passion Play, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Poetry, Project Nim, Rampart, Rango, Red Riding Hood, Red State, Redline, Retreat, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Rubber, Scream 4, Senna, Shame, Sleeping Beauty, Source Code, Submarine, Sucker Punch, Super, Super 8, Tabloid, Take Shelter, Terri, The Adventures of Tintin, The Arbor, The Artist, The Debt,The Descendants, The Devil’s Double, The Double Hour, The Future, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Green Hornet, The Help, The Housemaid, The Ides of March, The Last Circus, The Lincoln Lawyer, The Mill and the Cross, The Muppets, The Rite, The Roommate, The Skin I Live In, The Sleeping Beauty, The Thing, The Tree of Life, The Trip, The Ward, The Woman, Thor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, TrollHunter, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Tyrannosaur, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Unknown, War Horse, Warrior, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Weekend, Win Win, Winnie the Pooh, X-Men: First Class, Young Adult, Your Highness, Yves Saint-Laurent: L’Amour Fou


6 thoughts on “Lists: The Top Fives of 2011 Film

  1. That’s an impressive collection of lists!

    Agree with you on Melancholia, it’s the only beginning I can recall.

    I didn’t like the ending of Warrior, but that’s because I wanted another character to win 🙂

    Bobby Fischer Against The World was an interesting documentary, but I think better ones came out last year.

    1. Thank you! I definitely think there were much better docs that came out this year (Senna, Project Nim, The Arbor, etc), with several other biggies I missed out on, but I just think that Fischer was so consistently compelling and nobody really talked about it. Thanks so much for commenting : )

  2. Awesome lists! I love the break down of characters, relationships, title cards, and everything in between! I agree with several of these, especially the love for HANNA and TAKE SHELTER, although many of your mentions I haven’t yet seen. Looking forward to your favorite films of the year!

  3. Thanks Alex!!!!! I love doing fun little lists like this; it allows me to really point out what I appreciated this year and the various things I loved in the films I saw. Plus, it’s just plain fun!! Take Shelter and Hanna will be making many more appearances in the week to come; I love them both so much!

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